At any given moment, the grass, trees, and other plants in your yard are absorbing the nutrients in your soil to grow and maintain themselves. Depending on the stage of growth of your lawn, the yard may need to be replenished with one or more nutrients.
Granular fertilizers are the best option when you want a delayed release from a fertilizer application. Nutrients from dry fertilizers aren’t as quickly available as liquid fertilizers, but they are delivered to the plant more quickly than compost.
When added to the soil, granular fertilizer can start to be available in a few days and take a few weeks to fully dissolve.
How Long Does Granular Fertilizer Last In Soil?
Depending on the product’s formula, granular fertilizer can start to be available in several days and last for several weeks in the soil. Usually, granular fertilizer will dissolve within two weeks of application.
Many granular formulas are slow-release fertilizers. The pellets have a coating that helps delay the nutrient release. Slow-release fertilizers take longer to work, but they are more efficient by making less available at a time. This is in contrast to liquid fertilizers, whose strength of immediate availability is less efficient because not all of it will be used before some of it drains off.
Using Fertilizer On The Lawn
As the grass grows, it absorbs nutrients from the soil. When individual blades of grass die and decompose into the earth, the nutrients are returned. However, when you mow your lawn and remove the grass clippings, those nutrients aren’t directly returned to the ground to use for new growth.
This keeps the lawn clean, but nutrients have to be replaced another way.
Adding fertilizer in one form or another will restore nutrients and keep your grass green and healthy. You can keep track of your soil’s nutrient and pH profile by doing a soil test, either at home or through your local university extension program.
These tests measure the levels of the primary nutrients needed for grass growth, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as various other micro and macronutrients and soil acidity.
Types of Fertilizers
There are many kinds of fertilizers to deliver different nutrients in different amounts to the soil. When you do a soil test beforehand, you’ll know if you need to target a specific nutrient or a general application.
Aside from the needs of your soil, the stage of growth of your grass and the species of grass are the main factors in what kind of fertilizer is right for your lawn.
- Synthetic – Synthetic fertilizers are man-made additives, where nutrients are isolated by an industrial process and made available in large quantities. These can be delivered in solid or liquid states, providing nutrients in abundance for absorption.
- Organic – Organic fertilizer is composed of plant and animal material, which is broken down by the topsoil’s bioactivity into various minerals and compounds used by the grass to grow.
- Starters – When you plant your lawn from seeds, you should use a starter fertilizer to deliver the proper nutrients to the germinating plant. Starters are rich in phosphorus and potassium for good root growth.
- For Mature Lawns – An established lawn doesn’t need much phosphorus since it isn’t growing new roots, but it does require a lot of nitrogen to grow the blades and produce chlorophyll. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers can disrupt the growth of grass seeds, so only use this kind on fully grown grass.
- Feed and Weed – Mixes of fertilizer and plant-specific herbicide are sold as weed and feed formulas, which suppress weed growth, while a timed-release fertilizer helps your lawn grow in without competition. This should also only be used on mature lawns since the herbicide can disrupt seed growth.
Granular Or Liquid Fertilizer?
Liquid fertilizers are best when you want a nutrient to be absorbed immediately, not over time. Since granular fertilizers are dry pellets, they aren’t easily rinsed away by a little rain.
Fertilizing your lawn with granular products is a great way to deliver other micro and macronutrients as well, especially ones that aren’t easily held in liquid form.
Why Do Organic Fertilizers Take Longer to Work?
Organic fertilizers take longer to dissolve than synthetic fertilizers since they have to decompose for the nutrients to be available. Organic granular fertilizer is made with material that needs time to be broken down by topsoil bioactivity and may take up to six weeks to fully dissolve.
Organic granules don’t take as long as compost to be available, however, which breaks down over several months.
Does Granular Fertilizer Need To Be Watered In?
When applying granular fertilizer, it’s recommended to water the soil before application as well as after. Moist soil will hold the granules in place when they’re applied, and most products instruct you to water after application to start to dissolve and activate the fertilizer.
Can I Dissolve Granular Fertilizer In Water?
If you want the benefits of the nutrient profile of granular fertilizers, but you want it to be immediately available to your grass, you can dissolve granular fertilizer in water. This will help deliver a burst of nutrients quickly, with the added bonus of a stable supply of dry fertilizer for the next time you’re ready to use it.
Dissolved fertilizer is also a good way to keep wild animals and your pets from eating the dry fertilizer since pellets stay in place over multiple weeks in total. Liquid fertilizer also is excellent for cool-weather application since low temperatures slow the breakdown of the dry nutrients.
Making A Liquid Fertilizer From Dry Granules
Using 1 cup of dry granules for every 1 gallon of water, you can dissolve granular fertilizer to apply across your lawn. It will take 24 to 48 hours to dissolve completely, and you’ll want to stir it periodically to be sure all of the solids are incorporated into the liquid.
With a handheld fertilizer sprayer, you can apply this mixture evenly across your lawn to give your grass a nutritious boost.